Vicarious Viewing- Person of Interest “Nothing to Hide”

Person of Interest continues its third season with another “Number of the Week” episode. It was much tighter plot wise than last week’s, giving us a much more complicated moral dilemma concerning data-sharing and information privacy.

The Person of Interest this week was a man named Kruger, the founder of a data-collection site that advertises as a way to help people find long lost friends and relatives, but is really about helping marketers gather data on how users behave online–what they buy, what sites they visit, what they’re searching for, etc. It’s topical stuff that I believe most people are aware of, and probably bothered by, but have come to overlook. It’s a particularly fitting foil for what Finch’s Machine does, and the comparison does come up in the episode.

Even more interesting than the questions raised by the plot, however, is the character of Kruger himself. The show has featured shady PoI’s in the past, but few if any have been flat out unlikable. Kruger is a womanizing hypocrite with plenty to hide, despite proclaiming that he doesn’t.

“Look!” he says (after giving a potential investor a baby rattle whose wife is expecting, information gleaned by Kruger’s data-mining) “I even have my profile up!”

Not soon after his introduction do things start to go awry; first his credit card is rejected, and later, at a party celebrating his anniversary, a video made to celebrate his marriage is replaced with video of him with another woman. Things spiral out of control from there.

It turns out that a class action lawsuit was brought against his company and squashed, and that the person hunting him is the father of a young woman killed by a stalker enabled by the information on Kruger’s site. In a great reversal, we begin to feel for the perpetrator more than the victim. There’s another layer involved, but to write about it would be to spoil the reveal. I will say, however, that it introduces a new player or group of players to the game, one that could have dire consequences for Finch and Co.

The B-plot once again dealt with Carter, who has grown tired of working nights on patrol and has agreed to take on a trainee to get day shifts. The scenes involving Carter and the young recruit are humorous, but never silly. It’s also pretty obvious that there’s more to the rookie than initially meets the eye by the end of the episode. More than likely he’s an HR plant, sent to keep an eye on Carter, who’s actively investigating the death of a fellow detective.

An early scene finds Shaw trailing Finch, an echo of an early episode in which Reese did the same. And, just like before, Finch managers to lose her before making a phone call, basically taunting her efforts. Shaw wasn’t given much to do this week, besides act as Reese’s eyes and ears inside of Kruger’s company. They made a few more jokes about her itchy trigger finger, and she verbalizes the question of whether or not Kruger is worth saving. Based on her presence early in the episode I was hoping she’d take more of an active role, but such wasn’t the case. The preview for next week’s episode, however, promises a Carter, Zoe, and Shaw team up, so maybe we’ll get some much needed development on Shaw’s front then.

Fusco, unfortunately, was pressed farther into the background this week, only getting one scene. As much as I like Shaw, I hope it doesn’t mean that existing characters get phased out. It’s still early in the season, however, and Fusco has surprised in the past.

Root was missing in action this week, as well, but her presence wasn’t missed. The story simply had no place for her, and she would have taken away from the reveal of the new organization lurking on the horizon. I do worry, however, that the introduction of new conspiracies might start to over weigh the show’s already sizable mythology.

All in all, “Nothing to Hide” was a solid episode that continued to play on the topicality of the show’s premise, and did so without getting too in the viewer’s face about it. The action was low key this week, substituted by well executed twists and turns, and an interesting Perpetrator versus Victim dynamic. And, for once, the team wasn’t completely successful.

On a side note: I was little irked that Kruger was able to get past Bear with only a few pieces of cloth from his pants leg missing. Bad dog!

Vicarious Viewing- Person of Interest “Nothing to Hide”

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